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What to expect from your CELTA interview

Updated: Jan 18

What to expect from your CELTA interview
A CELTA Interview is a time to ask any questions you might have as well as answer the ones we have

People often get quite nervous about a CELTA interview. I remember being nervous about my own one, which I did over the phone in 2003. But there really is no need to be nervous. A CELTA interview isn't designed to trick you. It's not like a job interview where you're competing for one spot. You don't need to 'beat' anyone. If you're a suitable candidate, you'll be offered a place on a course.

Cambridge requires that all centres carrying out CELTA courses interview all their candidates and there are two reasons for this. Firstly, it's an opportunity for the CELTA centre to give information to you! Yes, that's right, it's not just about asking you questions, it's about making sure you're fully informed before you start the course. CELTA isn't like other courses people might have done in the past - assessed teaching practice is not something that many people will have experienced before and the interview is a chance for us at the centre to lay out exactly how that works, so you have a realistic idea of what to expect from the course. We also take the opportunity to go through the policies and terms and conditions that relate to the course.

The second purpose of the interview is to ensure that you are an appropriate candidate for the course. This doesn't mean we only accept people who we think will be amazing teachers! It's a beginner-level course in teaching. Our main criterion when we're selecting candidates is simply to ask ourselves 'does this person have the potential to pass a CELTA?'

So what kind of questions can you expect to be asked? Practice CELTA Interview Questions

1. You'll definitely be asked about your motivation for doing a CELTA and about the teaching jobs you intend to do after the course.

2. We may also ask you about your teaching experience if you have any (and prior experience is not a requirement).

3. They might also ask you about what you already know about the course.

4. Then we'll probably ask you what you would do in various teaching scenarios. The purpose here isn't to find out who already knows how to teach. It's to see how you'll react to the kind of conversations you will have to have every day during the course. If you need to guess in your answers here, that's absolutely fine.

5. We'll also ask you some questions about language. I think this is the part that worries most people because lots of people won't have studied grammar since they were young children. If you know grammatical labels like the names of English verb tenses, that's great, but as I've already said, there isn't an expectation that you already know this.

CELTA Grammar Interview Questions

We need to know how you'll cope if you have to teach a grammar lesson during the course, which you will. So we don't expect you to already know the grammar before the interview, but if we talk you through a grammar point at interview and you can't grasp it, then there's a danger that the same will happen on the course.

So don't think you're doing badly in your interview if the interviewer is explaining something to you! The point of the interview is to see how you react to this, not necessarily to check what you already know.

The interview will also include written tasks. One of the Cambridge requirements is that we verify that you can write in accurate English, so you'll need to produce a timed piece of writing. This isn't something you need to prepare for.

How To Prepare For CELTA Interview

So when candidates ask how they can prepare for the interview, the easiest answer is to say that you don't need to prepare anything, but if you really want to, some easy suggestions would be to:

  1. Think about your motivations for doing CELTA

  2. Read a bit about the course, so you know what to expect

  3. Read over your pre-interview tasks

  4. Relax and come prepared to listen, as well as to speak

As you can see, preparing for a CELTA interview isn't stressful or complicated. Take a bit of time to learn about CELTA and have a think about what you want out of the course.

If you do that, you'll do fine in your interview. Good luck!

Dr Connor O'Donoghue hails from Ireland and he started teaching English as a foreign language in Poland in 2003 and he became a CELTA trainer in 2008. He has taught and trained in Ireland, the UK, France, Italy, Slovenia, Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Kazakhstan and Vietnam. Connor also holds a Masters and a PhD in Education from Trinity College in Dublin. He has previously managed large teacher training centres in Vietnam and in London before founding DC Teacher Training.

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